Monet's Magpie


As March kicks off, it has been a particularly cold snowy one here. This is the time of year I should be having 'birds on the brain'... looking for those soon-to-arrive summer resident birds that are making their way back to Yellowstone. Hopefully, they'll put it off a little while longer until these wintery conditions subside!

La Pie (The Magpie) by Claude Monet...

in the collection of the Musee d'Orsay in Paris France

And so my mind has wandered to a painting I admire, created by Claude Monet in 1868 "The Magpie"...an oldie by goodie :) Not a typical Monet in many people's eyes (i.e. no water lilies to be seen!) But boy does this one show that he can handle snow...

Painted en plein air, probably over a few sessions on days with similar conditions. You do wonder if the magpie 'stopped by' and Monet decided it belonged or if it was added after bringing the painting inside and wanting more of a 'focal point' - or possibly planned from the start? Questions I would ask him if I could...

Look at those shadow colors, the subtle tonal variations, the repeating lines in his composition. The magpie is small in the landscape, but obviously the star. Your eye is drawn to the bird. Masterful!

Created in the winter of 1868-1869 in Normandy France. Viewers and critics were "flabbergasted by this pale painting" and it was rejected by the jury for the 1869 Paris Salon. Eighty years later is was acquired by the Musee d'Orsay in Paris. The painting was a little before it's time, but is certainly revered today as one of the Musee d'Orsay's most popular works.

"If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?" -Percy Bysshe Shelley


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